Maternal Diets in Gaza: Not Our Fault!
Congratulations are in order…..a team composed of scientists from Gaza, Iran and Iraq just published a high quality paper in which the name “Israel” did not appear even once. There was no mention of “occupied territories” or anything that could have been construed as political. A breath of fresh air. While the paper did talk about Gaza, Palestine — when it should have been Gaza, Palestinian Authority — I am pleased to see an article that could easily have been turned into another bash-Israel-and-blame-her-for-our-problems paper but did not.
While it should be natural for scholarly articles to be politics-free unless politics is the subject of the study, that is not what is happening in general in much of the academic world. We have Israel blamed for causing schizophrenia and heart attacks, for example. But sometimes there are articles in which problems within the Palestinian Arab world are seen as issues with which their local authorities need to contend instead of blaming Israel, such as this article on social problems experienced by women with disabilities, or this one on sewage treatment failures.
The article I am now bringing to your attention is about the impact of maternal dietary patterns on pregnancy outcome for obese women in Gaza. They state very clearly that:
Maternal nutritional status during pregnancy is the main determinant of fetal development, birth weight and disease of the infant, as well as the women’s health and reproductive capacity
Their conclusion is that women who eat a Mediterranean diet are less prone to premature births, low birth weight and congenital deformities in comparison with those who consume a Western diet (refined grains, meat, sugar, soft drinks, high fat dairy, etc).
How easy it would have been to blame the “blockade” on the inability for women to have access to sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables, on the one hand, or to blame the influence of the “occupiers” on the prediliction of some of the women to prefer sugary snacks and cola to healthy foods, on the other. After all, the article linked to above blames the “occupation” for heart attacks by blaming Israel for the high rate of smoking on the part of Palestinian Arabs, among other things.
I suppose that the authors of this article know that foods and other essentials freely cross the border into Gaza and that the markets in Gaza are filled with fresh produce. It is a relief to find a published scholarly paper that does not feel it has to deny that when dealing with problems their society needs to resolve. And perhaps even more surprising is the fact that four of the ten co-authors are faculty at universities in Iran and one from Iraq.
Feature Image Credit: pixabay